Artisanal Treats for Pets

Reading Pet Treat Labels: An Easy Guide

Reading Pet Treat Labels - Pawcrafted

You’ve got to buy some dog treats. So, you scroll through an endless list of products on your favorite e-commerce website to pick which one your kiddie gets to feast on this time. You click for pretty packaging, you read the highlighted features, you compare the price, seems like a great catch! But lurking around at the back is an ingredient label they perhaps don’t want you to see…

Just as food, the treats we choose to feed our pets should contribute to their well-being and not adversely affect it. There are a number of pet treats and biscuits available in the market currently and the list keeps on increasing. This makes it extremely important for us to know which ingredients are a-ok and which ones should be completely avoided.

The best way to do this? Reading the ingredient label. Let’s go through how these work and make your process of analyzing pet treat labels much easier!

The Importance Of Reading Pet Treat Labels

Something as simple as your pet’s treats can contain trace amounts of harmful chemicals and additives which can adversely affect their health. It is very important to take some time out to pay attention and read ingredients while choosing your next treat brand. 

A label must list down all the ingredients and contents which will give you first-hand and adequate knowledge as to what goes inside your baby’s stomach. 

Unfortunately, many ingredients are chosen to remain hidden from the ingredients label due to a variety of reasons. The chemicals might not be added by the treats manufacturer but someone else in the supply chain, e.g. the raw material supplier. Or they could even have been used as animal feeds, which can be an indirect source of intake for your pet.

However you, as a responsible pet parent, should make it a habit to go through everything that goes inside your pet’s treats. This will not only help you make an informed decision but will also help keep your pooches healthy!

What Should Be On A Pet Treat Label?

  • Product and brand name
  • Quantity (in terms of weight)
  • Detailed nutritional analysis
  • Ingredients (listed in descending order by weight)
  • Recommended serving portions
  • Manufacturer’s name, address and contact information

Ingredient lists must be shown clearly in the proper order of dominance by the quantity of ingredients used. A common trick used by manufacturers is to break down certain ingredients in order to place them lower on the list. For example, 60% cereal could be written as 30% cereal A and 30% cereal B, putting it after the 40% meat component in the sequence- misleading the customer to believe that meat is the leading ingredient in the treat.

Another deception often used is to disguise the ingredients with a poor reputation under another name. For example, MSG is usually disguised as “Nature Identical Flavoring Substances” or the likes.

This makes it very important to research any ingredients that you don’t understand or find suspicious. Even a quick Google search can help you out immensely.

Low-Quality Ingredients In Commercial Treats

Reading Pet Treat Labels
Source: Unsplash

The Indian Pet Industry is growing at a rapid rate and there are so many brands catering to different market segments of treats themselves. This leads to treats that are available to you but are often made with low-quality ingredients and sold at extremely cheap prices.

Many brands use tricks to make their product appear better than it is. This can be done through packaging and how the treat looks. But it is the ingredients label that shows the truth behind what goes into making the product.

Pick up any packet of pet treats and you will see a long list of ingredients. As a responsible pet parent, make it a habit to read this list and steer clear of the following ingredients.

1. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

BHA and BHT are chemicals that are possible carcinogens and are added to treats as preservatives. Both these synthetic antioxidants are widely present in most pet treats. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled out these preservatives as safe but at low doses. Keeping in mind that many pets are consuming these chemicals in higher quantities regularly, it’s best to keep away from treats that contain BHA or BHT.

2. Ethoxyquin

Ethoxyquin is a chemical preservative used to maintain the energy source found in fats. It is usually added by the ingredient supplier, and hence, is not mentioned on ingredient labels most of the time.

Ethoxyquin is also used in animal feed, so it can also indirectly find its way into your pet’s body. While consuming a low quantity may not be harmful, it’s important to think of the long term.

3. Propylene Glycol 

Propylene Glycol (PG) is a preservative added to treats that helps with their softening and moistening.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine prohibits the use of PG as it causes Heinz body formation in the red blood cells of cats. Our pets love to eat treats every day, which can make the cumulative effect of PG highly alarming.

4. Synthetic Food Dyes

Artificial food dyes are added only to improve the visual appeal of the treats for the buyer. They are rather unnecessary for pets and are also known to adversely affect their health.

Food coloring additives like Yellow #6, Blue #1 and #2, Red #3, and Green #3 are linked with cancer in animals. Your pet does not care what color their treats are, so why compromise on their health?

5. Gluten

Gluten is a protein commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. The majority of dogs and cats are intolerant of gluten. Inability to digest such proteins can lead to a reaction in the small intestine which can damage the intestinal linings.

There are no additional nutritional benefits involved in feeding your pet gluten. So whether or not your pet is gluten-intolerant it is better to eliminate their gluten intake.

6. Animal By-products

The animal carcass that remains after cutting off lean meat for human consumption goes into many pet treats, under the name of “by-products”. It is also highly likely that certain brands may feed your pet the remains of diseased or disabled animals.

There are close to no regulations for disclosing the source of the rendered fat or by-products in pet treats. This can be very dangerous in terms of safeguarding your pooch’s health.

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, there are many other food additives that should be avoided. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), xylitol, corn syrup, soy, salt, and vegetable oil are a few ingredients commonly used in making pet treats. You should be on the lookout for any of these ingredients as they are only present to disguise inferior food quality.

The 3-Step Quick Label Check

Reading Pet Treat Labels
Source: Unsplash

As long as you know which ingredients to seek and which to avoid when choosing a pet treat, you’re good to go! While it may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a quick three-step way to tell whether a treat is right for your pet.

CHECK 1: No artificial colors or preservatives. Look out for BHA, BHT, Propylene Glycol, Ethoxyquin, Yellow #6, Blue #1 and #2, Red #3, Green #3 or anything similar. If these are listed, you might want to leave that treat on the shelf.

CHECK 2: Steer clear of products containing the term ‘flavor’ anywhere in the ingredients list. A ‘flavor’ is when the source of the flavor is unknown or it is an artificial/synthetic additive. E.g.: chicken flavor, carrot flavor, pumpkin flavor, etc.

CHECK 3: Go for whole meat ingredients. If you want your pet to have the nutrition of real meat, make sure ‘by-products’ or ‘meal’ aren’t the ingredients on the label. Choose ‘chicken’ over ‘chicken meal’ or ‘chicken by-products’.

The best way to ensure your pet is consuming high-quality treats that are truly good for them is to choose all-natural, locally made treats.

Treats by Pawcrafted use limited ingredients of the best quality to create healthy, all-natural treats for pets. Our treats are free of any preservatives, synthetic colors or flavors, and by-products. You can buy a packet or 10 for your pet here!

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